Gwydyr Rd, Crieff, UK, PH7 4BS

(the text below is from Harry Wilby, of the Crieff Adventist Church and an enthusiastic member of our CAP committee)

I have never been on a Package Holiday. With family and relatives scattered from California to Western Australia, and in Denmark, These have been the usual destinations for annual breaks.

I’d nothing planned for this year, but in February, an Email arrived from the Seventh-day Adventist headquarters with an invitation to join a youth mission project in Kenya to build two classrooms at an SDA school for young Masai girls rescued from forced marriages, genital mutilation, or child labour. I’ve always wanted to visit East Africa, and now I had a reason to go.

On June 28th, when twenty eight of us met up at Heathrow for an overnight flight to Nairobi, I discovered that I was the oldest youth in the group. We were a mixed bunch with varying skills in construction work, but lots of enthusiasm. Our boss was Youth Leader, Pastor Des Boldeau.

kenya_005_girls_choir.jpgAs well as completing two classrooms to be used for computer training and a science lab, a medical team would hold clinics and health education sessions with the help of two local Adventist medical specialists, others of our group would be involved with the school activities, and an evangelistic team would hold daily meetings down in the town each late afternoon. Three people had experience in the building trade, including the Russian Pastor of the London Russian Church, and the rest of us varied from being proficient DIY’ers, to having little previous experience. Now was the time to rectify that and get a few blisters in the process.

Kajiado Adventist Educational and Rehabilitation Centre is situated 70 km south of Nairobi on the road and rail route to Tanzania. The school has about 100 girls, up to 16 years of age, and some young boys who are sons of some of the older girls. But it is planned to increase enrolment to 200 to cope with the number of girls needing safety and education. The Kenyan government now provides free education in state schools, but does not support private schools, so Kajiado relies almost entirely on donated financing to feed, clothe and educate its pupils. Families from whom the girls have been rescued are usually poor, and although a few will maintain communication with their daughter, none so far will contribute to their upkeep. The faithful Adventist staff and teachers are paid much less than state employees, and some months there is not enough to give them their full pay.

One aspect of the girl’s education which amazed us and was also a great pleasure to us as we worked (and in worship in church) was their singing classes and choir practises. The lively African songs were rendered with beautiful voices and harmony.


By the time we arrived, the building’s walls were erected from hand finished solid stone quarried blocks. The forming was in place ready to pour the reinforced concrete lintels to support the roof, so the first day was hard labour barrowing in sand, stone and cement, mixing it manually, and handing several tons of it up ladders to be poured in place.


As the project inevitably ran on ‘Kenyan Time’, delays in the arrival of essential materials frequently found us looking for alternative tasks to fill otherwise idle hands. This was a source of frustration at times, but all our prayers for the success of the project were answered eventually.

For two days most of us passed rocks down a human chain from where trucks had tipped them, to infill the foundation base for a large dining room and kitchen which the contractors were also working on. We also dug out the foundation for the full length veranda of the classrooms.


Eventually the timber for the roof trusses came, nails and more hammers were purchased, and the carpenters among us began splicing lengths of timber together to build eight 35 ft long supports for the roof. The window frames were of substantial steel construction, but the contractors had made the apertures one and a half inches too shallow. Two days were spent chiselling away at the solid stone blocks before the frames could be fitted.


By the second week the concrete lintels were deemed dry and strong enough to support the weight of the trusses which were manhandled in through the doors and rotated up into position. Eventually, the remaining timber arrived for the lateral supports and the corrugated aluminium sheets nailed in place. More stone chiselling was needed to prepare for electrical conduits to be routed in the walls before plastering was done. This was a task none of us had looked forward to, but the local contractors did a fantastic job, even moulding a finely smooth ‘blackboard’ on one wall in each room.

A final major task was to landscape all the spare soil dug out for the foundations, but with many of the school pupils helping us, this was finished, and shrubs and trees planted in time for marquees to be erected and chairs set out on level ground ready for the completion ceremony when local dignitaries, state educational officials and staff from the Adventist Central Kenyan Conference office arrived to accept the completed buildings.

But first, we treated ourselves to a morning off, when we were taken by ‘Masai John’ as we came to know him, to visit his village and meet his family and neighbours whom he was gently and patiently seeking to teach about the love of Jesus for them. The only Masai adult member of the Kajiado church, John had entertained us with his wit and humour as we worked, and was obtaining much of the Masai craft work and artefacts which our group wanted to take home.

For our last weekend we travelled for a whole day on atrocious African roads to cover the 260 miles to the Masai Mara Game Reserve. Accommodation was basic, but the safaris were just wonderful. I always enjoy the excellent TV programmes such as ‘Big Cat Diary’, but to see these animals in the flesh in their natural setting was a special privilege and a wonderful end to our visit to Kenya.

I so glad I went. It was one of the best holidays, ever!